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Your Guide to Ruby Gap

Ruby Gap Nature Park constitutes the eastern edge of the MacDonnell Ranges. The ranges are hundreds of millions of years old, and the startling beauty of the gap has been caused by constant erosion from rain and flooding during that time. The area has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years by the Arrernte people, who hold many sites in the area to be sacred. More recently, in the nineteenth century, the gap was the destination of a fruitless mining rush to unearth rubies. 

When visiting Ruby Gap, you will have the chance to explore the rich natural and cultural history of the area by hiking, swimming, four-wheel driving, camping, and wildlife-watching. The camp is open all year round but may be inaccessible after heavy rain. The Ruby Gap-Alice Springs drive is 150km and can take around 3 hours. 

Four-Wheel Driving 

Ruby Gap is only accessible to high-clearance 4WDs. Visitors can reach the park via the Arltunga Historical Reserve, taking the Binns Track. 

Visitors should be aware that the road leading into the park may be unusable after heavy rain. Also, drivers should not drive on the river bed after rain. In the event of rain, get to higher ground. 

 

Bushwalking 

Visitors should be aware that the walking terrain in Ruby Gap Nature Park is very demanding. Fitness and walking experience are required.

There are no marked trails in the park, but it is useful to follow the riverbed upstream. Following the river, it is 4km (2 hours) to Glen Annie Gorge and 8km (4 hours) to Fox’s Grave. 

Swimming

You will find some excellent swimming holes along the river and at Ruby Gap, after rain. However, in the hotter, drier months, water may not be available to swim in. 

Never jump or dive into the water, as depths can vary considerably. Parents should always observe their children when swimming. 

 

Wildlife Spotting

The park is home to some rare and threatened species of fauna, including the Black-Footed Rock Wallaby, the Australian Reed-Warbler, and the Bush Stone-Curlew. You may be able to spot these with patience. 

You will also be able to find threatened plant species, such as the Mulga and the Hill Mulga, as well as a range of native vine species hidden in the narrow gorges.

 

Camping 

Camping is allowed in Ruby Gap Nature Park anywhere along the river between the park entrance and Ruby Gap itself. There are no designated camping sites and no facilities available. 

Visitors should book their camping visit in Ruby Gap online here, before arrival as its no longer payable onsite. Ruby Gap is a Category B camping site and the applicable fees are $4 for adults, $2 for children, and $10 for families.

Remember When Visiting

You must be aware of park rules when visiting. Remember:

  • Always drive on designated roads and tracks
  • Cultural artefacts and wildlife are protected
  • Bins are not provided, so you must take your rubbish with you

The following are not permitted in the park:

  • Pets
  • Generators
  • Firewood collecting 
  • Drones (unless pre-approved by permit)

 

Safety

Because of its isolation, visitors to Ruby Gap should take particular safety precautions. In case of emergencies, visitors should come prepared with a first aid kit, satellite phone, EPIRB or personal locator beacon, and spare tyres.

Visitors should also be aware of the possibility of extreme heat, bringing plenty of water with them. Wear sun-safe clothing and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest hours of the day. Also, think about your health and fitness when deciding what activities to do.

There is the possibility of flash flooding in the area. Make sure to camp away from the waterway.

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